Soup Dumpling, the offspring of Private Kitchen and its chef-owner Lawrence Chen and his wife Emily, is showing growing pains already. The tidy little shop on Olive, just two doors from its mom and pop, had a steady stream of customer, when I was there on Sunday evening.
New on the Block
There are no bells and whistles on this menu; you can commit it to memory in seconds. It’s Shanghai dumplings and broth only. That’s it. People fell in love with Chef Chen’s dumplings at Private Kitchen, the tranquil, white table-clothed Chinese restaurant, that requires not just a reservation, but pre-ordering. To satisfy customer demand, Soup Dumpling was born.
Having been open only 10 days, the fledgling operation is overwhelmed by the volume of customers. So here’s what you need to know. You order and pay first (no credit cards for amounts under $25); select from a brief menu on the wall (my favorite was the pork); hold onto the scrap of paper with your order number and, if thirsty, buy a bottle of drinking water or soda—no tap water offered. Knowing all that ahead will expedite your order.
Now Back to the Dumplings
These little flavor bombs are handmade and delivered to the table in a bamboo steamer basket. According to the wall menu they come in beef, pork, crab and pork, and chicken. Russ and I shared two orders, one pork and one chicken, with six pieces to the basket. Each tender bite came with a small gush of tasty soup that surrounded the meaty contents. Heavenly! Chen also throws in a bowl of superb chicken broth, that should be canned and marketed for head colds, emotional discomforts, and chilly evenings.
Being without fruits, vegetables or greens, it wasn’t a particularly balanced meal, but it was quick and satisfying. Soup Dumpling has a tasty product, so I’m willing to cut them some slack as they work out the service wrinkles. As a fortune cookie once reminded me: “Practice makes perfect”—or was that my grandmother?
Soup Dumpling by Private Kitchen. 8110 Olive in University City. Open Wed-Sun 11a-9p.